May is mental health awareness month and it makes me think about what we teach kids about sharing their feelings. As a boy mom I am very aware of the double standard that boys live with. Studies show that when a girl cries, parents automatically hug them and help them talk about their feelings and allow them to express their feelings. On the contrary. boys are not hugged and are told to shake it off or take it like a man. Uhhhhh you are telling a 5 years old to “take it like a man.” I cringe every time I hear adults say that to boys.
There is a new generation of parents that are teaching their children that boys have feelings too, their feelings matter, and their feelings are valid. It’s doesn’t mean they are “acting like girls.” It means they are human beings that have feelings and that it’s okay to express themselves. As my son is growing up, he is learning about all the feelings he has. He is starting to reach a point where he knows what to do if he is sad or mad. He’s learning strategies such as playing with his legos, listening to podcasts, and drawing in moments of anger, sadness, and frustration. He also asks for hugs when he is angry or feeling really sad. Sometimes he can tell me what he is feeling, while other times, he can’t. I never push him, but I give him the space to share without feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or like he will disappoint me. Teaching boys to share feelings isn’t easy when the message they receive from the world is about being tough, to fight, and never share their feelings.
I found some helpful books that I love to read with kids. These books teach children to freely express themselves. What I love about them is that they have boy protagonists that aren’t being smart asses or a bully. It shows boys being expressive, showing compassion and love for themselves and others. Feelings charts are helpful in helping kids share what they are feeling in that moment.
In this book the author uses the mountain as a metaphor to describe the different feelings kids can have. It’s a beautifully illustrated book! It’s a good book to use to start talking about how to unpack feelings kids have at different times.
This book teaches kids the importance of empathy and compassion for others. The illustrations show a little boy doing kind things for others and how this fulfills him.
Sometimes kids don’t know why they are grumpy. What better way to talk about feelings than through animals. Kids love animals as fictional characters. Grumpy Monkey doesn’t know why he is mad. His friends try to help and cheer him up as he constantly says “I am not grumpy!”for example when all the animals offer to help ??? Read to find out how it all ends!
In this whimsical story, the author gives the reader the impression that knights and dragons are fighting and that is the plot of the story. The story takes a twist when Boy enters the fight and we learn something unique about him. This is a must read! Read to find out how this boy unites the town, knights, and dragons together.
This beautifully illustrated book describes to children why they matter. It teaches them that no matter their differences, everyone can find common ground. It’s a great book to teach children to be friendly and inclusive about physical and learning differences.
These are my top children’s books about sharing our feelings and learning from one another. Remember that being open about our feelings is an example that we model as parents. Our children are not born with empathy and sharing how they feel when times get tough. The more we normalize it, the easier it will be for our children.